Kallis puts South Africa on top

Jacques Kallis smashes 34th Test century as Proteas take control on day one of first Test.

Jacques Kallis
Another dominant performance by the South African master batsman [AFP]

Jacques Kallis hit his third hundred in five Tests and shared a double century stand with Hashim Alma to put South Africa in control of the first Test against India in Nagpur.

Kallis crafted a magnificent 159 and added an unbroken 285 for the third wicket with Amla, who scored 115, to help the visitors reach 291 for two after winning the toss.

Kallis struck 13 fours and two sixes on his way to his 34th Test century that brought him to No. 3 spot in Test cricket’s top century-makers.

The Kallis-Amla partnership is the highest for the third wicket in all Tests since the same two batsmen put on 330 versus New Zealand in 2007.

The composed show by this pair revived South Africa after left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan dismissed openers Ashwell Prince for nought and skipper Graeme Smith for six in successive overs.

Fine form

Kallis’ hundred brought him at par with former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar and West Indian Brian Lara in the exclusive club of leading century-makers.

Topping the list is Sachin Tendulkar of India with 45 centuries and Australian captain Ricky Ponting is in No. 2 spot with 39 hundreds.

“Kallis and Amla batted really well,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

“However, the first two sessions tomorrow will be very crucial.”

Amla’s knock featured 11 fours.

Batting first after skipper Smith won the toss, South Africa conceded the initial advantage to the hosts as paceman Zaheer Khan struck early to snare Prince and Smith.

Day one scorecard

South Africa first innings

G Smith b Zaheer 6
A Prince c Dhoni b Zaheer 0
H Amla not out 115
J Kallis not out 159
Extras 11

Total (two wickets; 91 overs) 291
Fall of wickets: 1-5 2-6
To bat: AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, M Boucher, P Harris, D Steyn, M Morkel, W Parnell.

Bowling: Zaheer 20-5-67-2 (nb-3), Ishant 17-2-44-0, Harbhajan 21-0-81-0, Mishra 26-2-71-0 (nb-2), Sehwag 7-1-22-0.

Prince was the first to go, trying to evade a bouncer from Khan that lobbed off his gloves to Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the fifth over.

Khan claimed the prize wicket of Smith two overs later with a fine delivery that swung in sharply and dislodged the stumps.

Taking control

Amla and Kallis then turned the course of the match in a series that will decide the No. 1 spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings.

Kallis used his feet beautifully to the spinners and hit Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra for sixes, although it was his cover drive off medium-pacer Ishant Sharma that stood out for the sheer precision of the shot.

“They started in a very difficult situation, but they made a fantastic recovery,” South Africa batting coach Kepler Wessel said.

“Kallis is an experienced player and knows exactly how to play in this situation. He
applied himself very well.”

India, already without experienced batsmen Rahul Dravid, Vangipurappu Laxman and Yuvraj Singh through injury, suffered a further blow when Rohit Sharma, called up as cover for Laxman, suffered an ankle injury in the warm-up.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha was handed an unexpected debut and will join another debutant batsman, Subramaniam Badrinath, in an inexperienced middle order.

Source: News Agencies